Sunday, July 7, 2024

WWE Money in the Bank 2024 Recap

By Steve Ward

The WWE finally returned to North America for a “Premium Live Event” this evening as Money in The Bank emanated from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. WWE’s last three PLE’s were held in France (Backlash), Saudi Arabia (King of the Ring), and Scotland (Clash at The Castle) and they will finally return to the US next month for SummerSlam. While I understand that WWE is a global brand with shareholders to answer to, they should remember that the company was built in the United States and the fan base deserves more than watered down weekly programming. As for tonight’s event, the card featured five bouts with two titles contested and would be headlined by the Men’s and Women’s Money In The Bank matches which would have the potential to heavily influence the title landscape of WWE moving forward.

Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade vs. Chad Gable vs. Carmelo Hayes vs. Jey Uso vs. LA Knight
Winner: Drew McIntyre

The show surprisingly kicked off with the Men’s Money In The Bank Match which proved to be foreshadowing for a cash-in later in the show. The winner of the match would be awarded a contract for a title bout at any time. Following a chaotic match filled with ladders being trashed and bodies broken, it appeared in the closing moments that Jey Uso would retrieve the briefcase. Then out of nowhere, Drew McIntyre threw a ladder that struck Uso in the face and knocked him from the ladder. McIntyre followed up with a Claymore Kick to dispose of Uso and ascended to the top of the ladder to become Mr. Money In The Bank.

Intercontinental Championship
Sami Zayn (c) vs. Bron Breakker
Winner: Sami Zayn via pinfall

Following his monumental upset over Gunther at Wrestlemania to end his historic Intercontinental Title reign, Zayn faced, arguably, his most daunting opponent in Bron Breakker - the son of Rick Steiner and, obviously, nephew of Scott Steiner. Bron Breakker put on a phenomenal display of power and agility as he dominated Zayn for the entire match. In the closing moments, Breakker delivered a body breaking power slam and squared Sami up for the spear. Zayn was able to avoid disaster and kicked Breakker in the face. The defending champ then delivered a Heluva Kick to put Breakker down for the three count and sneak out of Toronto with his title.

Following the match, there was a segment hosted by Trish Stratus where John Cena was introduced to cut a promo announcing he would be retiring from in-ring competition at the end of 2025. 

World Heavyweight Championship
Damian Priest (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Damian Priest via pinfall

At this year’s Wrestlemania, Rollins lost his title to Drew McIntyre (who subsequently lost it minutes later to Damian Priest who cashed in the Money in The Bank briefcase) and spent two months out of action due to a procedure on his knee. Tonight, Rollins would attempt to regain his title against the Judgement Day’s Damian Priest. This match devolved into chaos halfway through as Drew McIntyre came down to the ring and cashed in the Money In The Bank briefcase making it a triple threat encounter. After McIntyre disposed of Rollins, CM Punk emerged from the crowd and brutally reciprocated the beat down he received several weeks ago in his hometown of Chicago. A vulnerable McIntyre then fell victim to the South of Heaven at the hands of Damian Priest who was able to retain his title. 

Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Naomi vs. Zoey Stark vs. Lyra Valkyria vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Chelsea Green vs. Iyo Sky
Winner: Tiffany Stratton

The same reward would literally hang in the balance as in the men’s match to start the show with the winner earning a contract for a title opportunity at any time in the next year. In the closing moments, Chelsea Green and Tiffany Stratton were on side by side ladders jockeying for position to grab the briefcase. Stratton shoved Green’s ladder launching her to the floor where she crashed through two tables. Stratton then retrieved the briefcase unopposed.

Six-Man Tag Team Match
Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, & Kevin Owens vs. The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Tama Tonga, & Jacob
Fatu) w/ Tonga Loa
Winners: The Bloodline via pinfall

Since Cody Rhodes dethroned the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns, and took his Universal Championship at Wrestlemania, he has remained embroiled in a bitter feud with the newly revamped Bloodline with Solo Sikoa in charge. Since Wrestlemania, Sikoa first ousted his brother Jimmy Uso, then recruited Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa, the sons of the legendary Haku/Meng, unleashed the “Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu, son of the Tonga Kid, and viciously beat down Paul Heyman when he would not “acknowledge” Solo as new Tribal Chief. That leads us to tonight’s bitter grudge match where Rhodes recruited backup in Owens and Orton. With bodies strewn about, the announce table in shambles, and the referee knocked out for a significant amount of time, the closing moments saw Jacob Fatu prop up Cody Rhodes so Solo Sikoa could deliver a Samoan Spike to the jugular. The referee was then helped back into the ring to count the pinfall as Solo covered Cody.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

WWE WrestleMania 40 - Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE once again emanated from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA for Night Two of WrestleMania 40. This evening proved to be a more entertaining spectacle with the increase in star power and championship bouts as Night One felt like more of a glorified kick off show with the exception of a stellar main event. Tonight’s card featured seven matches with five titles contested leading up to Cody Rhodes getting another opportunity to “finish his story” in an attempt to take the Universal Championship from Roman Reigns under Bloodline Rules.


WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall


McIntyre earned his shot at Rollins’ championship as a result of his victory in the Elimination Chamber. Seth “Freakin” Rollins would face an uphill battle after the punishment he undertook on Night One in the main event, and it showed as he entered the match covered in Kinesio tape. Seth Rollins demonstrated impressive resiliency throughout the match as he withstood several Claymore Kicks until the final two were simply too much for him to withstand.


Following the match, McIntyre decided to gloat in the face of CM Punk who was the guest commentator for the match. Punk took exception and swiped Drew’s feet out from under him as he stood on the announce table over him. Punk then removed the brace from his arm and beat McIntyre down as the music of The Judgement Day echoed throughout the stadium. Damian Priest sprinted to the ring with his Money In The Bank briefcase and leveled McIntyre with it before telling the referee that he would be cashing in his title opportunity.


WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Damian Priest

Winner: Damian Priest via pinfall


Damian Priest promptly executed the South of Heaven to steal the World Heavyweight Championship from McIntyre.


Philadelphia Street Fight

The Final Testament (Karrion Kross & Authors of Pain) w/ Scarlett & Paul Ellering vs. Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits w/ B-Fab

Special Guest Referee: Bubba Ray Dudley

Winners: Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits


Following the destruction of several kendo sticks, chairs, and tables, this match saw its conclusion as Lashley and The Street Profits isolated Kross and laid him out across yet another table. Montez Ford then climbed to the top turnbuckle and leapt onto Kross putting him through the table and cinching the victory for his team.


AJ Styles vs. LA Knight\

Winner: LA Knight via pinfall


AJ Styles blamed LA Knight for costing him the Universal Heavyweight Championship when they were engaged in a triple threat match with Roman Reigns several months back. Tempers finally boiled over in the Elimination Chamber match as Styles assaulted Knight with a steel chair leading them into a bitter rivalry that culminated tonight on the Showcase of the Immortals. AJ Styles appeared to have LA Knight in dire straits for much of the match, however, his attempts at a springboard 450, Phenomenal Forearm, and Styles Clash were all denied before Knight finally countered with the BFT (Blunt Force Trauma) to seal his first WrestleMania victory.


United States Championship Match

Logan Paul (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Logan Paul via pinfall


Orton and Owens initially stood unified against Paul until he had been thoroughly beaten down and the match devolved into chaos. In the final moments of the match, Orton hit the RKO on Kevin Owens as a counter to the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Paul then got the jump on Orton and tossed him out of the ring allowing him to capitalize on a downed Owens with an impressive frog splash to put the final exclamation on his successful title defense.


WWE Women’s Championship

Iyo Sky (c) vs. Bayley

Winner: Bayley via pinfall


After Bayley won the Women’s Royal Rumble match back in January, her Damage Ctrl stablemates unceremoniously ousted her from the group with a vicious beat down setting up tonight’s showdown of former best friends. Bayley was limited the entire match by what appeared to be a legitimate knee injury but still prevailed in the end with a massive top rope elbow drop followed by the Rose Plant to crown her as the new WWE Women’s Champion.


WWE Undisputed Universal Championship

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Cody Rhodes

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall


Tonight’s match was contested under Bloodline Rules (meaning there would be no disqualifications, no count outs, etc.) as a result of Rhodes and Rollins losing the main event of WrestleMania Night One to Roman Reigns and The Rock. The big question tonight would be whether Cody Rhodes, the cover Superstar for the WWE 2K24 video game, would “finish his story” as predicted or would Roman Reigns continue his historic title reign. The match initially got off to an uneventful start, but business began to pick up as Jimmy Uso came to Reigns’ aid at the first sign of peril, but he was neutralized by his twin brother Jey. Next, Solo Sikoa helped Roman take down Rhodes again. This time John Cena came to Rhodes rescue only to have his momentum disrupted promptly by The Rock who delivered the Rock Bottom to the 16-time world champion.


Then the music of The Shield shocked the WWE Universe as a broken Seth Rollins entered the ring in his old Shield attire only to be the recipient of a brutal chair shot to the back. Next, the shocker of the match occurred as the lights went out and the unmistakable bell tolled throughout Lincoln Financial Field. As the lights returned, The Rock found himself face to face with The Undertaker who choke slammed “The Final Boss” before the lights once again went out. As the lights came back up, The Undertaker was gone, and The Rock was incapacitated on the floor outside of the ring. Shortly thereafter, Rhodes delivered three consecutive Cross Rhodes to conquer The Tribal Chief and finish his story on the grandest stage of them all.



Saturday, April 6, 2024

WWE WrestleMania 40 - Night One

By Steve Ward

The 40th installment of the Showcase of the Immortals, WWE WrestleMania, emanated from the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, in Philadelphia, PA. As has become the norm for the past few years, WWE again elected for a two night event in order to capitalize on their ability to produce to sellout gates with two mediocre cards padded with unnecessary vignettes and advertisements between every bout. This evening’s card featured seven matches with three titles contested and was headlined by Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins teaming up against The Rock and Roman Reigns to determine the stipulation for night two’s Universal Championship match.


Women’s World Championship

Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley (c)

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall


The opening bout of the weekend would have the potential to set the bar high as Becky Lynch, winner of the Women’s Elimination Chamber, earned her shot at the dominant Rhea Ripley’s RAW Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch gave a commendable effort but was clearly slowed as she battled strep throat. In the closing moments, Ripley was simply too much for The Man as she delivered a Riptide into the turnbuckle and immediately followed it up with yet another Riptide to successfully defend her title.


Six Pack Challenge for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship Ladder Match

DIY (Tommasso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Awesome Truth (R-Truth & The Miz) vs. New Catch Republic (Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne) vs. A-Town Down Under (Austin Theory & Grayson Waller) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Judgement Day (Finn Balor & Damian Priest) (c)

Winners: Smackdown Tag Team Championship - Grayson Waller & Austin Theory; RAW Tag Team Championship - R-Truth & The Miz


Although this match was for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship, both the RAW and Smackdown Tag Team titles were suspended above the ring separately and the match would continue until both sets were retrieved. The first set of titles removed from their suspension above the ring were the Smackdown titles by Grayson Waller and Austin Theory. In the closing moments, R-Truth dumped Damian Priest out of the ring with an Attitude Adjustment and scaled the ladder to retrieve the RAW Tag Team Championship.


Rey Mysterio & Andrade vs. Dominik Mysterio & Santos Escobar

Winners: Rey Mysterio & Andrade via pinfall


The leader of the LWO, Rey Mysterio, recently returned from injury and dove right back into his bitter rivalry with former stablemate Santos Escobar (who has since reformed Legado del Fantasma). Dominik Mysterio then decided to insert himself back into Rey’s business making tonight’s affair a tag team match. Rey was set to team with Dragon Lee initially, however, he was taken out on Smackdown last night leaving the door open for Andrade to step in after he decided he didn’t agree with Escobar’s tactics. The match reached its conclusion shortly after Dominik Mysterio attempted to get a chair from ringside to use on his father. Before he was able to crack Rey’s skull with the steel chair, a pair of men donning luchador masks emerged from the crowd to thwart his efforts. This left Escobar vulnerable to the Tadpole Splash from Rey Mysterio which secured the pinfall.


Jimmy Uso vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Jey Uso via pinfall


Following his departure from The Bloodline, Jey Uso left Smackdown for RAW in search of a new start - his brother Jimmy, however, would not allow this as he has continued to insert himself in his brother’s business time and time again which brought us to, tonight. The conclusion of the match saw Jey Uso deliver a spear and subsequent splash from the top rope to solidify the victory.


Damage Ctrl (Kairi Sane, Asuka, & Dakota Kai) vs. Bianca Belair, Naomi, & Jade Cargill

Winners: Bianca Belair, Naomi, & Jade Cargill via pinfall


Interestingly enough, WWE decided to book the Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Kabuki Warriors, in a six-woman tag team match instead of a title bout. The Kabuki Warriors teamed with fellow Damage Ctrl member Dakota Kai as Bianca Belair recruited Naomi and Jade Cargill who returned/debuted at the Royal Rumble. In the closing moments of a rather brief bout, Jade Cargill was left alone with Dakota Kai who she dispatched with Jaded.


WWE Intercontinental Championship

Gunther (c) vs. Sami Zayn

Winner: Sami Zayn via pinfall


Gunther put his record-setting Intercontinental Championship reign on the line this evening against the resilient Sami Zayn. “The Ring General” Gunther dominated the entire match and seemed to have an impressive victory at hand after delivering a barrage of power bombs and splashes. After Zayn kicked out of a late pinfall attempt, Gunther scaled the turnbuckles only to be intercepted with a Helluva Kick. Zayn then delivered a brain buster in the corner and immediately followed with another Helluva Kick to shock the WWE Universe and end the record championship reign of Gunther.


The Rock & Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth Rollins

Winners: The Rock & Roman Reigns via pinfall


The main event of Night One had significant implications for the stipulation of Cody Rhodes match with Roman Reigns on Night Two with the Universal Championship hanging in the balance. If Rhodes and Rollins were victorious, the Bloodline would be banned from ringside, however, if The Rock and Roman Reigns prevailed, then the Universal Championship would be contested under Bloodline Rules. This carnage-filled encounter showed that The Rock didn’t lose a step in his near decade away from the ring. With broken tables and broken bodies galore, the final moments of the match saw Seth Rollins incapacitated by Roman Reigns after being speared through the ringside barricade. This left The Rock and Rhodes in the ring alone. The Brahma Bull executed The Rock Bottom and immediately proceeded to hit the most electrifying move in sports entertainment, The People’s Elbow, to put away The American Nightmare and set up Bloodline Rules for Night Two’s main event.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

WWE Royal Rumble 2024

By Steve Ward

The WWE kicked off the road to Wrestlemania this evening as the Royal Rumble emanated from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. This evening’s event featured a men’s and women’s Royal Rumble match, as well as, a Fatal Four Way Match for the Undisputed Universal Championship as Roman Reigns put his 1,245 day title reign on the line against AJ Styles, Randy Orton, and LA Knight.


Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Winner: Bayley


Order of entry:


Natalya

Naomi

Bayley

Candice LeRae

Jordynne Grace

Indi Hartwell

Asuka

Ivy Nile

Katana Chance

Bianca Belair

Kairi Sane

Tegan Nox

Kayden Carter

Chelsea Green

Piper Niven

Xia Li

Zelina Vega

Maxxine Dupri

Nia Jax

Shotzi

Becky Lynch

Alba Fyre

Shayna Baszler

Valhalla

Michin

Zoey Stark

Roxanne Perez

Jade Cargill

Tiffany Stratton

Liv Morgan


Final Three: Jade Cargill, Bayley, Liv Morgan (Tiffany Stratton and Bianca Belair were simultaneously eliminated off the apron by Bayley)


In the final moments, all three women battled on the ring apron. First, Morgan shockingly tossed Cargill off the apron. Next, Bayley, ever the opportunist, kicked Liv’s legs out from under her for the elimination and to punch her ticket to Lincoln Financial Field for Wrestlemania.


Undisputed Universal Championship Fatal Four Way Match

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton vs. LA Knight

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall


Several weeks ago on Smackdown, Styles, Knight, and Orton competed in a Triple Threat Match to determine Reigns’ opponent for tonight’s event, however, The Bloodline ensured that no winner was determined. As a result of their actions, Smackdown general manager Nick Aldis declared that all three men would compete against Reigns tonight. In the closing moments, Reigns appeared to be in dire straits after a barrage of chair shots from AJ Styles and a massive elbow drop from LA Knight. Knight then attempted the BFT but Reigns countered and propelled him into the ropes where Styles was preparing to deliver a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles was knocked off the ropes and Reigns took advantage by executing a body crumbling spear to secure the pinfall and retain his title.


WWE United States Championship 

Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Logan Paul via disqualification


In the closing moments of the contest, Grayson Waller and Austin Theory made their way to ringside. Theory proceeded to slip brass knuckles to Logan Paul, however, Kevin Owens ripped them off his hand before he could be struck and turned around to use them on Paul. As Owens went for the pinfall, the referee saw the brass knuckles on Owens’ hand and disqualified him.


Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Winner: Cody Rhodes


Order of entry:


Jey Uso

Jimmy Uso

Grayson Waller

Andrade

Carmelo Hayes

Shinsuke Nakamura

Santos Escobar

Karrion Kross

Dominik Mysterio

Carlito

Bobby Lashley

Ludwig Kaiser

Austin Theory

Finn Balor

Cody Rhodes

Bronson Reed

Kofi Kingston

Gunther

Ivar

Bron Breakker

Omos w/ MVP

Pat McAfee

JD McDonagh

R-Truth

The Miz

Damian Priest

CM Punk

Ricochet

Drew McIntyre

Sami Zayn


Final Four: Drew McIntyre, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, and Gunther


In the closing moments of the match, Punk surprised McIntyre near the ropes and hoisted him up on his shoulders and dumped him out of the ring. Next, Rhodes dragged Gunther by his head and pulled him over the top rope leaving Punk and Rhodes. Punk then attempted the Go To Sleep, however, Rhodes escaped and tossed Punk out to win for the second year in a row.


Following the match, Rhodes directed his attention to the skybox, where Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman were seated, and pointed at The Tribal Chief setting up a rematch of their encounter from last year’s Showcase of the Immortals.


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Philadelphia Area Boxing Preview - January 2024

Kings Promotions (Marshall Kauffman) ushers in the new year on Friday, January 12th at the Live Casino in Philadelphia, PA. Eight fights are scheduled with Philly favorite junior featherweight Christian Carto in the main event. Carto will square off against Filipino Ardin Diale in a bout slated for eight rounds.

Eight years ago, Carto successfully turned pro a few weeks after graduating from the prestigious Saint Augustine Prep. A meteoric rise followed as Carto fought regularly drawing large crowds. A hot commodity, Carto was being courted by every major promoter. After winning his first seventeen contests, Carto was iced by a no name from south of the border in February 2019. Then the COVID pandemic hit, and like many other fighters his career came to a halt. Then when it appeared Carto was back on track, he suffered a shoulder injury that needed surgery. Now fourteen months have passed since Carto was last in the ring. Training in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Bozy Ennis, look for Carto to be more polished even as he shakes off rust.

The following night, January 13th, in Atlantic City, promoters Mis Downing and Joe Frazier Jr put on eleven boxing matches at Boardwalk Hall. Heavyweight Joey Dawejko of Philadelphia, PA., looks to make it seven straight wins. Beginning in September 2022, J Russel Peltz began guiding Dawejko's career. Malik Titus, Baltimore MD is slated to oppose Dawejko in an eight rounder.

Undefeated Bantamweight Dylan Price, Sicklerville, NJ, faces Gilberto Mendoza of Mexico in the ten round main event. Unfortunately, the very talented Price's career was slowed down by the COVID pandemic. At one time, Price was under contract with Mayweather Promotions and is currently a free agent. With his skill set, Price will catch the eye of one of the games major players.